EgyptAir cancels flights to Sudan as nationwide strike begins at Khartoum airport

EgyptAir cancels flights to Sudan as nationwide strike begins at Khartoum airport
Egypt's national carrier cancelled its flight to Sudan on Monday citing 'ongoing events' in the country where a nationwide strike began on Tuesday.
2 min read
28 May, 2019
EgyptAir had earlier cancelled and resumed flights in April [AFP]

Egyptian national carrier EgyptAir on Monday cancelled its flights to Khartoum over what it called "ongoing events" in Sudan, as airport employees threatened to bring other airline services to a crashing halt in a nationwide strike.

"Due to ongoing events in Sudan, [EgyptAir] has decided to cancel its two flights… from Cairo International Airport," the airline said in a tweet on Monday, the day before a two-day general strike in which airport employees had declared their participation.

The airline had earlier cancelled its flights to Sudan after the military seized power from former President Omar al-Bashir in a coup in mid-April, but flights resumed after just a few days.

Qatar Airways also cancelled its flights to Sudan in April.

However, that decision was triggered by the prohibitive price of fuel, with journeys already made more expensive by new, longer routes forced on the airline by the Saudi-led blockade on Qatar.

EgyptAir added that its dedicated operations centre was monitoring the situation for updates.

Sudan has been in the midst of political upheaval since the general took power.

Protest organisers last week called for a two-day general strike after negotiations with the military over the country transition to civilian government stalled over the issue of whether a civilian or general would lead the country.

Khartoum airport employees, reportedly including aeronautical engineers, were the first to begin the nationwide strike as Tuesday began, with flight-tracking sites reporting the cancellation or delay of flight to and from the airport.

Among those flights were reportedly trips by Emirati carrier Air Arabia and Saudi airline Saudia, according to aviation news site Aeronautics.

Photos and videos distributed on social media on Tuesday appeared to show the airport’s check-in area, completed deserted of employees and passengers.

Another video reportedly showed passengers whose flights had been cancelled shouting a popular rally crying for protesters: "Civilian [state], civilian [state]!"

Sudanese airlines are also expected to be grounded by the two-day strike.

By Tuesday afternoon, however, flights appeared to be arriving to and departing from Khartoum airport as usual, according to flight-tracking website Flight Aware.

However, a flight by Emirati carrier Etihad airways, scheduled to depart from Abu Dhabi on Tuesday morning, did not depart until almost seven hours later.